Welcome to The Eller Times, sharing highlights of news, events, people, and partners of the Eller College of Management.
This fall, students from the Eller Leadership Board (ELB) launched a new group aimed at incoming pre-business freshmen — the Eller Leadership Integrity Training Experience, or E.L.I.T.E.
“The students wanted to help freshmen by showing them everything they wish they’d known coming into Eller,” explains Laura Ullrich, pre-business and E.L.I.T.E. program advisor.
Over 120 freshmen applied and, after conducting application reviews and phone interviews, the ELB selected 65 members.
“I was always incredibly involved in my high school years, and I wanted to continue this trend in college,” says freshman and E.L.I.T.E. president Jacob Schmidt. “The E.L.I.T.E. program seemed like a great way to get involved right off the bat.”
“The E.L.I.T.E. program has allowed us to meet many of the Eller advisors, upper division Eller students, and even some of the upper division professors,” says freshman Sonja Wieduwilt. “It has also been a great networking tool and I have gotten to know quite a few of the other members.”
Pre-business students often don’t get involved with the Eller College outside of advising until sophomore year, and pre-business classes are often held in buildings other than McClelland Hall. A central goal of the E.L.I.T.E. program is to help freshmen feel engaged in their major.
E.L.I.T.E. students meet once a week. Topics are timed to coincide with Eller College events, and the students review corresponding chapters of College namesake Karl Eller’s book, Integrity is All You’ve Got. For example, the students read the chapter “Opportunity is for Optimists” and discussed networking and resume tips the week of the Meet Your Eller Major fair. On October 12, 50 E.L.I.T.E. members will travel to Phoenix for the Technology and Management Awards Luncheon, where they will meet with Karl Eller informally.
“Sitting in the first meeting of the E.L.I.T.E. program in my business suit and name-tag, I remember thinking to myself, ‘Do I really belong here?’ Everyone around me seemed so much older and more mature than I had pictured your typical freshman,” says Schmidt. “After only a couple meetings, I felt a connection with the Eller College. Thanks to this program, I now walk into McClelland Hall thinking to myself, ‘This is where I belong.’”
Former U.S. Representative Jim Kolbe Teaches Global Economic Development Course for MBA and Law Students
This fall, former U.S. Representative Jim Kolbe — an adjunct lecturer at the Eller College — is teaching a course on global economic development for 35 students. The course is jointly offered through Eller and the James E. Rogers College of Law.
“Representative Kolbe has not only lived to experience the policies and effects of international trade, he’s also made much of the history himself,” says student Joshua Scott. “I have realized that I never fully understood the consequences of trade in my own life, let alone in international affairs.”
The course focuses on policies that promote global economic development, particularly how the U.S. and other developed nations can help less-developed nations reduce poverty and become more competitive. It also examines current social and economic issues related to globalization and how these forces affect trade policy in the U.S. and abroad.
“Not only does Representative Kolbe bring a unique perspective to the classroom, he brings recent perspective,” says MBA student Gregory Goodman. “One of the great things about Eller is that a lot of the professors have non-academic work experience, but often that experience happened a few years ago. Rep. Kolbe's lengthy service in Congress and recent retirement provide a contemporary perspective as well as a historical context on trade and trade policy.”
The healthcare industry is a major focus of next year’s presidential election, and with its increasingly complex challenges — from skyrocketing insurance costs to medical malpractice to drug safety — the need for professionals who combine business and medical experience is on the rise.
The Eller College and the UA College of Medicine are answering that need through a collaborative, five-year dual-degree program resulting in an MD and an MBA.
“Business acumen helps physicians reach their ultimate goal: providing patients with the best care,” says Scott Bolhack, MD and Eller MBA ’06.
For physicians in individual or group practice, management education will offer insights into team management, finance and accounting, organizational development, and innovation. But this interdisciplinary knowledge is also essential for leaders of nonprofit or for-profit hospitals, in development and marketing of pharmaceuticals and devices, and policy making.
College of Medicine students may apply to the Eller College during their second or third years. More information is available at www.ellermba.arizona.edu/dual/
On October 5, the Eller College played host to a collaborative series, the Education Business Boardroom, jointly coordinated by the UA College of Education, Wallace Foundation, Southern Arizona Leadership Council, and the Eller College of Management.
The Education Business Boardroom brings CEOs and superintendents together to discuss timely topics that affect schools and businesses alike. Friday’s event featured Eller College dean Paul Portney and Catalina Foothills superintendent Mary Kamerzell presenting on the topic of board governance, followed by a discussion session.
“We’re all stakeholders in the educational system,” says Paul Melendez, lecturer in the School of Public Administration and Policy. “The College is part of a broader community, and it’s important to make a contribution to the success of business leaders and superintendents alike.”
Food Network founder Jack Clifford isn’t a UA alum. But this high-energy philanthropist, now semi-retired from a 50+ year broadcasting career, has demonstrated a commitment to education that has its source in his high school years.
Always more interested in sports than academics, Clifford never planned to go to college. But then his high school principal started calling him to the office on a regular basis — not for punishment, but for pep talks. Thanks to that principal’s encouragement, Clifford applied to Western Michigan University, where a class in radio broadcasting got him started on his career — literally.
On the second day of class, Clifford found a note on the blackboard from the professor, asking him to substitute teach. “I lost my hair at 19,” says Clifford, “so I looked older than my age, and he thought I was a retired vet from the Korean War. I think I ended up teaching the class more often than he did!”
In 1957, Clifford moved to Phoenix and took a job as the first sportscaster on KTVK Channel 3. Five years later, moved into a sales position with KTAR-TV, and that’s when he met up with Karl Eller. “We were both young and full of go get ‘em,” says Clifford. “He encouraged me and was instrumental in my early rise to success in broadcasting.”
Around that time, Eller and his partner John Louis added KTAR to their company, Combined Communications, and Eller took an interest in Clifford’s career and promoted him. Eight years later, Clifford became general manager and president of KTAR.
Then Clifford moved to the Atlanta market, ultimately ending up in Rhode Island as executive vice president of Providence Journal Company. He developed the company into one of the nation’s largest broadcast TV, cable TV and TV programming conglomerates, and founded and served as chairman of the Food Network and Northwest Cable News.
In 1997, Clifford sold the company and moved back to Arizona. “The first person I looked up was Karl,” he says. “I wanted him to know that I was willing to help with the things that are important to him.”
One of those things — the Eller College of Management — dovetailed nicely with the philanthropic focus of the Clifford Family Foundation. In 2001, Clifford and his wife Marguerite funded a scholarship for the Eller Ambassadors, a group of students who serve as peer mentors and representatives of the College to prospective students and their families.
“The Ambassadors are our sales force, but it’s all volunteer work,” says associate dean Pam Perry. Now with the support of the Cliffords, the College can recognize outstanding Ambassadors annually with scholarship funds.
“I became involved with Eller Ambassadors because I have always taken an interest in leadership positions and making a difference,” says Lauren Abbott, BSBA Marketing ’08, president of the club, and a recipient of an Ambassador scholarship. “Being an Eller Ambassador has shaped my entire career at Eller. I take pride in assisting with events because I think it is a great opportunity to give back to those who help me and my peers.”“These students do so much on behalf of the College,” says Perry. “Jack Clifford’s gift allows us to reward our veteran Eller Ambassadors each semester.”
In September, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) appointed Eller associate professor of economics Gregory Crawford its chief economist.
Crawford’s research focuses on the cable TV market and cable TV regulation; he is an expert in industrial organization, econometrics, and media economics. Some current research focuses on the potential effects of a la carte cable pricing, a system championed by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.
“This is great opportunity for Greg,” says Eller College vice dean Stan Reynolds. “The position gives him a chance to apply his expertise to important real-world policy issues, and for him to immerse himself in the environment he researches. I think he will return to Eller an even better teacher and researcher.”
Crawford is on leave from The University of Arizona during his FCC appointment.
There’s nothing unusual about Eller students getting involved with the Associated Students of The University of Arizona (ASUA). Usually upper division students occupy top leadership spots, but this year, Eller sophomores Tommy Bruce and Jessica Anderson were elected to president and executive vice president, respectively.
“Being involved in ASUA means giving back to my University community and helping all of my peers have a better experience in college,” says Bruce. “I am fortunate enough to not need to work my way through college and not having outside commitments that keep me from being involved. I do what I do for the students who do have to work, who do have other things going on in their lives.”
“This is a leadership experience that engages many of the skills taught in Eller, including team building, effective communication, hiring practices, interviewing skills, public speaking, brand management, and leadership styles,” explains Anderson. “ASUA adds a unique perspective to the hands-on experience from the Eller College and enhances my potential as a student leader.”
“It’s a great opportunity for me to give back to the University as a whole as well as to my own College,” says Bruce. “Being able to sit in class and help my classmates with campus issues as well as work with them on Eller initiatives is unbelievably rewarding.”
The entertainment industry occupies an important sector of the American economy, and Eller assistant professor of marketing Yong Liu says it’s also a hot topic in marketing: this month’s issue of Journal of Marketing featured three papers on the movies.
Last year, The New York Times quoted Liu’s paper published in the Journal of Marketing on word-of-mouth and the movies, a topic of great interest to the studios who stand so much to gain — or to lose — from the success of movies, not just in domestic and international box office, but from the sale of related products.
“One of the industry’s unique features is that there is no strict definition of quality,” says Liu. “People can’t really determine whether they think a movie is good or bad until they see it. So how do consumers talk about movies? Are there patterns to that talk? And can we use those patterns to predict sales?”
Research into word-of-mouth marketing is hardly new, but Liu says that in the past the research has been constrained by developing data. Recall-based surveys and lab experiments do not generate naturally occurred word-of-mouth data.
“Now we have the Internet,” says Liu. “Online forums and discussion boards are a source of real word-of-mouth.” For his 2006 paper, Liu used data from Yahoo Movies to explore the effect of word-of-mouth on revenue. “The main thing we discovered is that the volume of word-of-mouth is a much more useful measure to predict revenue than whether the majority of word-of-mouth communication is positive or negative,” he says. “Volume matters. It suggests high awareness, and measures a general level of interest.”
Now Liu is building on that research. “One of the papers that I am working on focuses on the effect of different information sources on consumers,” he says. “Which is more effective, information from other consumers, or information from professional movie critics?”
Liu has divided the movie audience into two groups — heavy users and less-heavy users — and observed through experiments and market data that the groups have different responses to the information sources. One thing remains the same, though, he says: “Word-of-mouth influences both groups.”
Three years after earning his Eller MBA, Michael Gottlieb is realizing that he got a lot more than he expected from the experience.
After earning an undergraduate degree in computer science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1997, Gottlieb went to work for a software development and consulting firm in Boston. “I was never a highly technical person, but I found I was good with people, so I moved into a project management position,” he explains.
In 2001, during the Internet firm collapse, Gottlieb was laid off. What could have been a nightmare turned out to be a great opportunity. “I knew I wanted to do something different, and I didn’t want to go back into software development,” he says. “I always wanted to start my own business, so I decided that an MBA would give me the tools to do that.”
Focusing on graduate programs that were strong in entrepreneurship, Gottlieb applied at ten schools around the country, including the Eller College. One Thursday, he interviewed with Eller, and the next day he got the acceptance call. “I was impressed with the turnaround,” he says. “They weren’t only looking at the GMAT — not just the score I got on a test I took one morning. They looked over my resume and were interested in my career and experience, and in what I wanted to do.”
After graduation, Gottlieb and his wife Erika picked up and moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, with no job prospects, in part to be closer to family. Gottlieb began looking for a position in marketing. What he found — a contract position as a market researcher for pharmacy automation company Parata Systems — turned into a full-time position just two months later.
“At that point, the company had 100 employees, including the sales force, and a single product,” says Gottlieb. “I worked on a variety of projects, including building an ROI application, organizing and running national sales meetings, performing market surveys, and more.”
Then last summer, the firm acquired a division of a larger company and went from a one-product company to a multi-product company virtually overnight. Gottlieb was promoted to product manager for one of those products. In that role he created a product plan and manages the plan within the organization.
“Every day, I find myself using some skill I acquired while an MBA student at Eller,” he says. “Whether it be to run some regression analysis, design a research survey, create a project plan, or figure out the most efficient way to do something, I’m constantly realizing how valuable my experience was.”For Gottlieb, things are also busy on the home front: “In three short years, we’ve bought a house, got a dog, had our first daughter, and then had our second daughter just two months ago.”
Two years out, Eller marketing alum Kristen Garcia is taking on new challenges as a sales manager at Macy’s in Paradise Valley, Ariz., where she trains and oversees associates in the store’s fine jewelry, handbags, and accessories department.
“I was recruited after I completed my internship in San Francisco,” she says. “I entered the management training program in July of 2005 and completed it that October.”
The job has its perks — besides the store discount, Garcia says she gets to meet a lot of people, and that every day brings something new. But that also means that the job keeps her on her toes: “This is the first time that I’ve managed employees — I oversee 14 associates – so it’s a new thing for me,” she explains. Training and developing the associates, plus coaching them and resolving issues, keeps Garcia challenged.
She cites both the class work at Eller — especially accounting, marketing, and management — plus her involvement in student organizations as good preparation for the job. “I loved Eller, it was an amazing experience,” she says. “The UA is such a big place, and so is Eller. So the sense of community at Eller, especially in the upper division courses that you go through with your cohort, was phenomenal. It was a culture and an atmosphere that I loved.”
Looking forward to the next phase of her career, Garcia says she would like to build on the experience she had working with Stacey Lippert on events in the undergraduate programs office at Eller. “I would love to be involved with the special events team at Macy’s,” she says. “They do PR in the region and bring in special promotions. Working on events would be by far the best fit for me.”On the home front, Garcia says work life is very different from the college schedule. “The thing I’m not used to is having so much down time in the evening. I was so used to going from meeting to meeting!” she says. “College is all work, work, work, and now I actually have some work-life balance.”